Communication is everything.
Let me repeat… COMMUNICATION IS EVERYTHING.
Not just in business, but in life.
Communication is what lets us connect. It’s the source of all progress. Heck, communication is what makes us human.
But not all communicators, or communication styles, are created equal.
In many cases, communication is the skill that separates the massively successful from the rest of the pack.
As a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a public persona, communication is absolutely integral to my livelihood.
I’m constantly striving to connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful level.
It’s something I want to get better and better at, but it doesn’t happen over night, and it definitely doesn’t happen alone.
Leveraging the advice of some brilliant communicators and entrepreneurs, here are 3 communication experiments I tried in 2016:
1) More Stories
Stories are how we make sense of the world. They are the most effective way for us to communicate a message that actually resonates.
One of the ways I improved my storytelling in 2016 was to dig deep into Don Miller’s teachings in StoryBrand. I put a special focus on making intentional use of the 7 components of an effective story.
Another thing I did was actively practising storytelling to discover what works.
For example, one story I used in a BIG presentation this year was a bit ‘edgy’, so I first shared it with some mastermind partners. This gave me a chance to see real reactions, to observe what worked and what didn’t.
I also practised storytelling by sharing stories on Facebook… particularly about funny situations with my kids. I experimented with how details can bring a story to life and how timing can make it more effective. I watched comedians to emulate their performance tactics.
The key thing I discovered is that you have to LOOK for stories to tell.
This could mean stories of your customers (success, sticking points, highs, lows), things that make you laugh, things that frustrate you.
And when you have a story, document it right away. Because the ‘juice’ of a story comes from the details, and you can best describe the details when the story is fresh.
2) More Range
Another communication experiment I tried was adding more range to my presentations.
Because I tend to be a high energy guy, but high energy all the time can be too much.
It’s like having the volume on full blast all the time.
So I’ve been working hard to identify when high energy is good and when I need to intentionally tone it down and provide more range.
This means incorporating a mix of high energy, soft energy, happy stories, sad stories, practical content, inspirational content; it’s the mix that creates the connection.
For example, when I spoke to over 4000 entrepreneurs in Brazil this year, I got the crowd hyped up by starting my presentation with the clip of an iconic moment in Brazilian football history.
As soon as the hype died down, I transitioned into a softer reflective exercise with the lights dimmed to provide contrast.
In 2016 I was reminded of the immense importance of communicating in a way that appeals to both the head and the heart.
3) Focusing on the ‘First and Last’
The final communication experiment I tried was something I learned from communication coach Victoria Labalme.
The tactic is what Victoria calls ‘first and last’ – making a special effort to start and end strong in all of your communications.
Think of your webinars, live presentations, marketing campaigns – or even a night when you’re hosting guests – as a timeline.
Like a good book or movie, that timeline should be punctuated with a compelling beginning and a satisfying or provocative ending.
Everything in between matters, but no where near as much as how you start and finish.
So in my presentations, I became very conscious of involving or engaging people early with high energy, questions, and special exercises.
I also became very intentional about how I’d end presentations. I always wanted to be clear about providing next steps and including some element that pulled everything together.
When I spoke in Hungary, that element was a story. When I spoke in Brazil, it was a song. At Jeff Walker’s PLF event, it was a surprise punchline.
Did I nail it every time? Definitely not.
But did I get better? Yes.
And did I connect with people in a more emotional way? I like to think so.
Some things came naturally. Others I still need a lot of work on.
But the key for you and I to realize is just how important not only WHAT we say, but HOW we say it really is.
And the more intentional you can be about HOW you share your ideas, the more effective you will be.